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Brimbank Mayor Georgina Papafotiou wants to establish joint ‘COVID-19 Taskforce’ with Victorian Government

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Brimbank Mayor Georgina Papafotiou has written to the State Government requesting it consider establishing a joint State Government and Brimbank Council COVID-19 Taskforce to oversee the local health, wellbeing and economic responses to coronavirus in the wake of rising case numbers in Victoria.

Mayor Papafotiou has written to the Premier, Minister for Health, Chief Health Officer and the Treasurer, requesting urgent strategic briefings from Government on the ongoing and emerging health impacts, risks, measures and considerations of COVID-19 in Brimbank and in consideration of the economic impact of further possible restrictions on local businesses, workers and community cohorts.

“I acknowledge the work of the State Government and the Department of Health of Human Services (DHHS), for the leadership that has been shown to help our community through the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Mayor Papafotiou wrote in a statement.

“Any outbreak of COVID-19 in a community is a concern, and Brimbank Council’s number one priority has continued to remain the health, wellbeing and safety of our residents, while ensuring those impacted economically and financially are also supported through Council’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Strategy, and Council’s advocacy to the Federal and State Government for a local ‘Health, Wellbeing and Economic Partnership.’

“Through our own Whole-of-Council COVID-19 Response and Recovery Strategy, and in line with State Government advice, Brimbank has been working to support our community through the health, wellbeing, social and economic impacts during this period. However, the Brimbank community already experiences a range of socio-economic issues, and is particularly vulnerable to a prolonged COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mayor Papafotiou said Brimbank’s high levels of socio-economic disadvantage, levels of unemployment, youth unemployment, workforce casualisation, educational outcomes, high diabetes and obesity rates, mental health rates, elderly community, and our high number of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities mean that Brimbank is particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Brimbank’s business community is also particularly vulnerable to a prolonged pandemic. Over 33 per cent of local businesses who are associated with the transport, logistic, warehouse, tourism, accommodation, retail, food services, arts and recreational sectors, have been heavily impacted by social distancing restrictions.

Brimbank’s local employment impacts (which include JobKeeper) is forecast to fall by an estimated 14.5 percent in the June quarter, or impact 12,682 local jobs.

Council is encouraging the State Government to adopt a targeted, meaningful and supportive approach, in partnership with Council, to help our community through this period.

In considering possible further restrictions for Brimbank, Mayor Papafotiou said Council was keen to build off existing working groups, engagement and relationships with the State Government in establishing a new joint taskforce that could work towards and oversee:

  • A strengthened local health, safety and wellbeing response including increased testing of residents across the community more often and more regularly.
  • A dedicated State Government COVID-19 Health, Wellbeing and Economic Package for Brimbank LGA, that supports the local economy, businesses, workers and impacted residents during the pandemic and as part of recovery efforts, building on the existing relief efforts being provided to local business and workers.
  • State Government support towards delivery of Council’s 2020-21 Draft Budget, and Council’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Strategy and its 5 pillars.

Mayor Papafotiou said Council considers this approach would provide both the State and Council with a genuine pathway to engage, collaborate and address both the short term and longer term local health, wellbeing and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, which the Brimbank community is particularly vulnerable and exposed to.

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